Daily Tech Digest - January 12, 2022

NIST Updates Cybersecurity Engineering Guidelines

NIST’s publication is a resource for computer engineers and other professionals on the programming side of cybersecurity efforts. “This publication addresses the engineering-driven perspective and actions necessary to develop more defensible and survivable systems, inclusive of the machine, physical, and human components that compose those systems and the capabilities and services delivered by those systems,” the document reads. Spanning over 200 pages, the publication takes a holistic approach to systems engineering. NIST researchers give an overview of the objectives and concepts of modern security systems, primarily regarding the protection of a system's digital assets. One of the key updates NIST authors made in the latest version of the publication was a fresh emphasis on security assurances. In software systems engineering, assurance is represented by the evidence that a given system’s security procedures are robust enough to mitigate asset loss and prevent cyber attacks. Ron Ross, an NIST fellow and one of the authors of the document, told Nextgov that system assurances act as justifications that a security system can operate effectively.

9 ways that cybersecurity may change in 2022

On the plus side, digital wallets can ensure the identity of the user in business or financial transactions, reduce fraud and identity theft, and shrink the cost and overhead for organizations that typically create physical methods of authentication. On the minus side, a person can be at risk if their mobile device is lost or stolen, a device without power due to an exhausted battery is of little use when trying to present your digital IT, and any digital verification that requires connectivity will fail if there's no cellular or Wi-Fi available. ... Shadow or zombie APIs pose a security risk, as they're typically hidden, unknown and unprotected by traditional security measures. More than 90% of attacks in 2022 will focus on APIs, according to Durand. And for organizations without the right type of API controls and security practices, these shadow APIs will become the weak link. ... Information technology and operational technology will collide as IT teams assume responsibility for the security of physical devices. This trend will require interoperability between IT and OT, leading to a convergence of technology to determine who can physically get in a building and who can access key applications.

First for software, agile is a boon to manufacturing

Overall, applying agile methodologies should be a priority for every manufacturer. For aerospace and defense companies, whose complex projects have typically followed the long time horizons of waterfall development, agile design and development are needed to propel the industry into the age of urban air mobility and the future of space exploration. ... Over the past decade, agile software development has focused on DevOps—”development and operations”— which creates the interdisciplinary teams and culture for application development. Likewise, design companies and product manufacturers have taken the lessons of agile and reintegrated them into the manufacturing life cycle. As a result, manufacturing now consists of small teams iterating on products, feeding real-world lessons back into the supply chain, and using software tools to speed collaboration. In the aerospace and defense industry, well known for the complexity of its products and systems, agile is delivering benefits.

Observability, AI And Context: Protecting APIs From Today's (And Tomorrow's) Attacks

Today's digital economy is built on a foundation of APIs that enable critical communications, making it possible to deliver a richer set of services faster to users. Unfortunately, today's security solutions focus on an outmoded way of thinking. Most current organizations deploy security solutions and practices that revolve around network security, intrusion detection and mitigating application vulnerabilities. However, for modern API-driven applications that have become the de-facto deployment model for applications that operate in the cloud, these traditional security practices simply do not scale to meet the challenges of today's organizations. Due to the incredible complexity of APIs, as well as the breadth and depth of their deployment across organizations, security and IT teams need to tackle this problem in a structured process that takes into account API application security best practices and procedures that constantly evaluate an organization's APIs, the level of their security posture and their ability to automate remediated security actions when they are attacked.

2022 will be the year we all start talking about online data collection

From uncovering trends to conducting market research, there are countless reasons why businesses collect publicly available web data from their competitors. Though the competitors in question often also engage in data collection themselves, most will regularly block access attempts and make site changes to prevent their public data from being accessed, even though the information targeted is on public display. All this could be about to change. While it may seem counterintuitive – after all, why would you want to give away information to your competitors – some businesses are beginning to realise that it’s in their best interests to allow their public data to be collected by responsible, well-defined, and compliant data practitioners. Firstly, preventing data collection is like a game of whack-a-mole: When you block one tactic, smart practitioners will simply find another. Secondly, accepting some forms of data collection will enable businesses to accurately distinguish between organic user traffic and collector traffic, giving them a clearer insight into what data is being collected and by whom.

Omnichannel E-commerce Growth Increases API Security Risk

API-led connectivity overcomes obstacles that retailers face gathering data from disparate systems to then consolidate the data into monolithic data warehouses. Since each individual system updates separately, information may be out-of-date by the time it hits the database. APIs enable retailers to build an application network that serves as a connectivity layer for data stores and assets in the cloud, on-premises or in hybrid environments. As a result, mobile applications, websites, IoT devices, CRM and ERP systems (order management, point of sale, inventory management and warehouse management) can all work as one coherent system that connects and shares data in real-time. ... The downside to this rapid growth and development in e-commerce has been a concerning rise in API security attacks. Here, threat actors have executed numerous high-profile breaches against public-facing applications. For example, developers use APIs to connect resources like web registration forms to various backend systems. This tasking flexibility, however, also creates an entrance for automated attacks.

Collaborative Governance Will Be The Driver of The API Economy

Most companies with API programs don’t have advanced API management tools, and they can only do a couple of releases a year from inception to production. Collaborative governance, with an automated platform, is the future to plug the gap from a business standpoint and help them get to market quicker and faster. A whole team would understand how APIs mature and prepare responses for the varying requirements. ... Collaborative governance democratizes the API building process as anybody in a team should be able to build, manage, and maintain APIs. Add a low-code, results-driven platform or AI-assisted development tools to the mix, and developers won’t always need to learn about new tools and technologies from scratch or interact with multiple parties. Through centralizing ownership using version-controlled configuration, enterprises can avoid the disruption caused by manual errors or configuration changes and enable reusability. Time to production is also reduced due to continuous integration and delivery (CI/CD). 

How AI helps essential businesses respond to climate change

Underpinning the AI-based forecast platform, is a convolutional neural network (CNN) model. This extracts features from radar reflectivity and meteorological satellite images. This is supported by a trained machine-learning model, which is capable of performing highly accurate and close-to-real-time local weather forecasting in minutes. Meanwhile, a generative adversarial network (GAN) works to generate forecast images with exceptional clarity and detail. One of the benefits of this AI-based prediction model, is that it outperforms the traditional physics-based model; for example, the Global/Regional Assimilation and PrEdiction System (GRAPES) requires hours to generate forecasting data, which is far behind the pace needed for organisations that need to make near real-time decisions based on anticipated weather events. Some of the data is conveyed via high-resolution imagery with one-kilometre grid spacing, with updates every 10 minutes providing fresh insights, enabling real-time decisions to be made to plans or arrangements based on unfolding or predicted weather events. 

Stargate gRPC: The Better Way to CQL

In 2008, Google developed, open-sourced, and released Protocol Buffers — a language-neutral mechanism for serializing structured data. In 2015, Google released gRPC (also open source) to incorporate Protocol Buffers into work to modernize Remote Procedure Call (RPC). gRPC has a couple of important performance characteristics. One is the improved data serialization, making data transit over the network much more efficient. The other is the use of HTTP/2, which enables bidirectional communication. As a result, there are four call types supported in gRPC: Unary calls; Client-side streaming calls; Server-side streaming calls; and Bidirectional calls, which are a composite of client-side and server-side streaming. Put all this together and you have a mechanism that is fast — very fast when compared to other HTTP-based APIs. gRPC message transmission can be 7x to 10x faster than traditional REST APIs. In other words, a solution based on gRPC could offer performance comparable to native drivers.

2022 promises to be a challenging year for cybersecurity professionals

One thing the pandemic has demonstrated is an unprecedented shift in endpoints, workloads, and where data and applications reside. Today, the Federal workforce remains mostly remote and telework is being conducted over modern endpoints such as mobile devices and tablets, and the applications and productivity tools are now cloud-hosted solutions. To be effective, those additional endpoints and mobile devices need to be included in the Agency’s asset inventory, the devices need to be managed and validated for conformance with the Agency’s security policies, and the identities of the user and their device must be known and validated. Additionally, the applications that are cloud-hosted must be included in the zero-trust framework including being protected by strong, conditional access controls, effective vulnerability management and automated patch management processes. I am optimistic that we can make great strides towards improving cybersecurity in 2022, if we are smart and pragmatic about prioritization, risk management, and leveraging automation to help us work smarter not harder.

Quote for the day:

"Making those around you feel invisible is the opposite of leadership." --  Margaret Heffernan

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